I suspect, and some commentators agreed, that fiddling with the results does not compensate for the original loss of quality. One thing about CDs is that, on cheap systems, they tend to sound better than vinyl because they don't scratch and they have a punchier sound. But on a really high end system, the superiority of vinyl is audible. Nothing, however, sounds good on laptop speakers!NO ONE DEBATES the impact of streaming music. Having virtually every song ever recorded just a few clicks or a shout to “Alexa” away has revolutionized the way we enjoy and interact with our favorite artists’ work.Also beyond debate, sadly: how terrible most streaming music sounds, especially to generations weaned on the quality of CDs and the warm sound of vinyl. Worse, Spotify and Apple Music, the two streaming services that sport the greatest reach, lack intuitive interfaces and are by far the weakest.
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And another university manages to come up with a really pointless "study" of music: Sharks love jazz but are stumped by classical, say scientists. Bypassing that dumbed-down headline we discover:
Uh, guys, sharks are animals? They may be relatively smart instinctual predators, but still. "Figuring out" stuff is what human minds do.In a paper published in Animal Cognition, the researchers, led by Catarina Vila Pouca, trained juvenile Port Jackson sharks to swim over to where jazz was playing, to receive food. It has been thought that sharks have learned to associate the sound of a boat engine with food, because food is often thrown from tourist boats to attract sharks to cage-diving expeditions – the study shows that they can learn these associations quickly.The test was made more complex with the addition of classical music – this confused the sharks, who couldn’t differentiate between jazz and classical. “It was obvious that the sharks knew that they had to do something when the classical music was played, but they couldn’t figure out that they had to go to a different location,” said researcher Culum Brown. “The task is harder than it sounds, because the sharks had to learn that different locations were associated with a particular genre of music, which was then paired with a food reward. Perhaps with more training, they would have figured it out.”
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I think we have mentioned this piece before here at the Music Salon, but it is in the news again due to performances in Philadelphia: Bowerbird's 2-man music contraption is a hot ticket for 4 remaining Philly shows. This likely the oddest musical instrument ever created:
Mauricio Kagel is the composer of the music for this collection of instruments:
If I were in Philadelphia I would try and get a ticket, if only to watch the two players in action.The cluster of musical instruments seems to stretch as far as the eye can see, both down the room and up to the ceiling. They’re pointed every which way, and played in a way that suggests the world forgot what they are and how they usually work.Timpani is played by a rolling pin with spikes. A trombone slide is equipped with a mallet that hits a xylophone. A horn has a Hindustani tabla drum stuffed in its bell; it’s both blown and tapped.Rather than having a bow play a cello, the cello — strapped to a rocking chair, swaying back and forth — plays the bow.The piece is Mauricio Kagel’s Zwei Mann Orchester (“Two-Man Band”), heard last week in the first of a series of “Sound Machines” performances in the Pearlstein Gallery at Drexel University’s URBN Annex.
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The New York Times has an interesting article about the survival of a library of Baroque music in the lowlands of Bolivia: Jesuit Legacy in the Bolivian Jungle: A Love of Baroque Music.
The music has admirers well beyond the Bolivian lowlands. One is Ashley Solomon, a professor at the Royal College of Music in London who traveled to the city of Santa Cruz this April to conduct at a festival of baroque music held once each two years at the former Jesuit missions.Of course, since it is the New York Times, ideological points have to be made:
Mr. Solomon recalled years ago giving a concert in San Javier, west of Concepción and the site of a sprawling white-and-black Jesuit mission whose wood facade overlooks the main square.
When his group, Florilegium, began to play an 18th-century flute concerto, “Pastoreta Ychepe Flauta,” he was amazed, he said, to hear members of the audience, townspeople who knew the piece, humming the music too.
“We could play Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ in London and no one would be singing along,” Mr. Solomon said. “But in Bolivia people took the music for their own — and got to the core essence of what music is about.”You see what they did there? The Bolivians are better because they have this mystical connection to the core essence of the music, unlike the imperialist, oppressor audiences in London.
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John Luther Adams is undoubtedly America's most geographic composer and the LA Times has the story: Becoming John Luther Adams: The evolution of one of America's hottest composers.
There is something about the immense geography of North America, much of it devoid of the signs of human life, that inspires composers. One thinks of the year Elliot Carter spent in the Sonoran desert composing his first string quartet.A month ago, the Seattle Symphony premiered a sequel, "Become Desert," which was international news. A week later, the orchestra brought the work to Berkeley, where I heard it, for the California premiere.Compared to "Become Ocean," "Become Desert" is a study in stupefying stillness. High string harmonics reminded me of the relentless sun. In real life, Adams is often seen wearing a hat. But in this music, there is no protection from aural ultraviolet light. Rustling sounds are like insects or plucked cactus or shifting sand. After a long while, you begin to lose a sense of reality, the shimmer stimulating aural mirages.
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The Violin Channel has dug up a performance, by the Istanbul State Symphony conducted by Efdal Altun, that may herald the future of classical music performance if we take the advice of all those marketing experts:
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And finally, to clear the palate, let's have a more traditional kind of performance, without selfies. How about that String Quartet No. 1 by Elliot Carter? The performers are the Julliard String Quartet: